Brunei Darussalam



This aerial addition isn’t one of Temburong but an opportunity moment over a body of water and a group of migratory egrets.

In continuing the nature-landscape theme of recent posts, I have decided that I could no longer contain the urge to share these rare images of the Temburong rainforest (in Brunei Darussalam) with all you nature and photography lovers out there and in here!

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

© Jan Shim Photography

I am happy to entertain any questions you may have regarding aerial photography, equipment usage, exposure settings and so forth so long they aren’t too technical. I am thankful for the folks who trusted me to deliver these images as much as I am thankful for the pilots who made the journey pleasant and above all else, safe! I am delighted to have been able to complete the picture, so to speak, for our national asset Temburong having combed the Ulu Ulu Resort on foot and from the sky!


The photo gallery contains a variety of Temburong pictures including a dramatic scene where a menacing wall of rain had formed over the Sungai Teraban area in Kuala Belait. I was able to capture a series of images starting with this below as our helicopter hoverered from a safe distance.

© Jan Shim Photography

Majority of the images were captured on Canon EOS 5D and EF24-70mm f/2.8 lens hand-held with shutter speeds just enough to overcome the ever rattling and turbulent ride of the heli. With both doors fully opened, you could only stick the lens that much out the perimeter of the body right before turbulence hits it hard. There were also some lessons I learnt from the trip such as different body-lens combination. The other camera was the 20D and ultrawide EF10-22mm … the poorer resolve of a non L is evident when you deal with issues such as variation in atmospheric aberration, etc. If I could do it all over again, I would be better prepared. In case you’re wondering, Yes, I shot RAW.

While we’re on the landscape theme, I thought it would be of interest to you to see just how majestic The Empire Hotel & Country Club looks from above. How often do you get to see the entire landscape of the hotel from anywhere except up?

© Jan Shim Photography

I have also linked these pictures across a number of forums such as ClubSnap (Singapore) and PhotoMalaysia Forums where I’m reasonably active and it’s interesting the questions and comments members have. What I actively do is seek ways to promote our country and its national assets to neighbours and also folks who are oceans away of the serene beauty that is Brunei Darussalam—these images (IMHO) truly capture the essence of “A KINGDOM OF UNEXPECTED TREASURES.”

I am already spellbound by the photos you posted on the main page.  I had to take some moments to get my eyes off one and then on to the other.  I need more time w/ the flash gallery. — Kel


  1. Nice & Great photos!

    Don’t know why, I cant take my eye off the “RainClouds” & “Temburong11” in your gallery. Keep clicking on to see that..


  2. Breath-taking, yesssss! How beautiful and peaceful these photos are!

    My fave of all these is the forest, with the serene river with reflections and the lone house.

    Thankyou for giving me a view from another side of the world. 🙂


  3. amazing series as I mentioned, love the first sunrise shot. The golden glow, smooth water (lol, I’m not very good in descriptive writing) and the boat the break through ’em is very nice. =D


  4. Hi Jan, beautiful photos as always, it’s perfect.

    I’m just wondering, I’ve not been using my camera lens hood, and when I do use it, I can’t tell the difference. Do you always use yours, or what is your rule of thumb on this? Thanks.


  5. kantalensa
    That’s precisely my thought too after spending a combined total of about 4 hours shooting out of the chopper door from Temburong to Kuala Belait. Being able to see all four districts is and the only word that comes to mind … exhilarating! Aerial tourism is perhaps the one aspect of the business that hasn’t been explored but surely it must have crossed the mind of the Ministry but like most things, it’s easier said than done. Liability and national security risks would be two items on high alert I would imagine!

    My rule of thumb on lens hoods—I always have them on. There are there for a reason and you probably don’t want to find out the ‘why’ bit when it comes to protecting the front element of the lens other than blocking out glare like it’s supposed to. I even got a hood for the EF100mm f2.8 Macro which is quite a protrusive item (the entire lens is 12cm and the hood is 8cm). Small lenses with hoods are easier to pack than say, when you try to fit several long teles into the bag.

    Matt C
    “so you now have Land and Air conquered..what about Sea?”
    They have this thing called Sea Sick for a reason and it doesn’t just apply to people. I don’t mind putting my camera through heat and dust but when it comes to moisture of corrosive nature, that would be a most definite no unless the job pays well enough to cover a new camera body but you know what I mean. I’ve dropped the 20D into the Temburong river and thankfully it was fresh water and the camera was fully operational after drying out in the cabinet for 3 days. Salt water, on the other hand, would have most certainly meant shopping!


  6. wow these pictures are divine, im sure this is wat heaven looks like lol. i have seen other pictures of nature at its finest but these are like nothing i have ever seen before. im afraid to say tht u have out done ur self this time around, becos i kno the next post i will be blown away by your magnificence. Great photos Jan truly amazing.


  7. Jan, that’s really an amazing series… and as most people said, its breathtakingly beautiful shots!

    I’m wondering if you don’t mind sharing the camera settings – exposures, shutter speeds etc. for those pictures.

    Thank you in advance! Once again, great great looking pictures! Can’t stop not looking forward to your next posts.


  8. Mau

    One of a number of challenges for aerial shoots is always the element of shutter speed and exposure (not so much aperture). The fact that I wanted to capture the glorious sunrise put me at the risk of not shooting at high enough shutter speed to overcome the turbulence. I left Seria as early as 5am in order to reach RBAF for the safety brief and we reached Temburong and fired my first shot at 6.45am (it was very exciting and although quite sleepy still, there was simply too much going on to yawn!)

    The camera was practically set to Tv mode to lock shutter speed to 1/1000s and kept ISO to no higher than 400 while it’s still relatively early. I normally do not shoot RAW but under the circumstance where there’s a risk of underexposure, I shot RAW for obvious reasons. So yeah, the exposure settings vary quite a bit from the very first to the later pictures. It helps to know your camera well so that you can instinctively react as needed. There are no hard and fast rules about what you should or shouldn’t do when you’re in the helicopter other than you shouldn’t smoke or use your mobile phone!

    Interesting coincidence (or maybe not) that you asked about shooting in Oman. I have heard great reviews from fellow photographers and expats who had previously stayed there in particular, the beautiful landscapes etc. There is no immediate plan to visit but let’s hope that someday I will and our paths may cross.


  9. W-O-W! Pulling off more magic with your camera again I see. I’ve seen this land from the plane before and it’s no where near as perfect as this


  10. Wendell, You can take such great photos in your dream…. I can’t even take good photos in both real world and dream.. 🙂

    Anyway Jan, your pictures are really awesome.. Like the last pictures, The Empire Hotel & Country Club looks from above. I have been to Empire but never get to see all of it till now.


  11. Don G
    Jan! makes me want to go back– NOW! who’s plane were you in?

    Delighted to hear from you again, Don. I hope your destinations and itinerary after Brunei were smooth sailing. You know the Abode of Peace welcomes you back with open arms (subject to the approval of the relevant Ministries, of course 🙂 )

    David was shooting the scene (the real work) in HD video while I handled the stills in an Air Force helicopter for a client’s promo video. I was on board for the purpose of keeping the chopper balanced 😛

    I still cannot forget the comment a friend of yours made when she came across a “photograph of you signing a photo of yourself!” on the web. That wasn’t the intended composition or reaction I had in mind but it’s always interesting how it comes across to others. Technically, you’ve been back once already.

    Thanks! Until that morning, I had never dreamt of shooting in a helicopter much less the adrenalin rush of shooting in one with both sides of the doors wide opened. When asked, the idea was rather unnerving at first as I have a fear of heights (hence the choice of word—BREATHLESS—but as I discovered there’s a difference between vertigo and being in a helicopter hovering at much higher altitude but am glad my clients and associate persisted that I came along. So, sometimes, dreams do involuntarily come true when you least expect it (willingness to accept it also helps!).

    Alan Chai
    One word—stay Focused and I don’t mean keeping your finger on your shutter button.

    Jin Yang, baysidelady, nz.juushici, Ginger, andyl, Justina and others whom I may not have mentioned here … MANY THANKS! 🙂


  12. 要从高空拍摄风景与鸟瞰图的确很不简单,但我们的 JAN SHIM 做到了,真佩服他的专业,让我们欣赏到了汶莱那么美丽的一幕。


      1. sg david,我当然知道他不晓得中文,不过是他要求我在他的网站上留言的,说是要让一些懂得看中文的读者也能被吸引进来留言。


  13. waoh! Brunei is truly beautiful!! by the way, how did you get all the bird’s view shot? you board on a heli? wouldnt that be expensive? o.o And are you a pro photographer? awesome! 😀


  14. Ichinose,Cassie, MT, VY — Thanks!

    Glad you enjoyed them. I would love to include more but as I’ve said, there are legal restrictions that apply to aerial photographs in particular those of business districts, housing and identifiable city landmarks for reasons of national security.

    If you have a chance to spend a few nights at the resort, you’ll also find that it’s “calm and peaceful” with the added sound effect of the river waters.

    I’m not sure if birds actually see that well but I’m glad humans have access to technology that actually ‘sees’ more detail than the human eye is capable of.

    I’ve finally come to the conclusion that people generally visit blogs to look at photographs and disregard what has been written no matter how informative (or not) 😛 But yeah, I shot these images from a helicopter and details of the assignment are on a need-to-know basis. I have no idea how much it costs to get up there but suffice to say, it’s not cheap esp with today’s escalating fuel prices 🙂


  15. To achieve the aerial pictures as such of Temburong rainforest, could you please provide an approximate altitude level this photographs were achieved at? I sure appreciate it very much if you can provide me the info.

    My sister, Maria told me about you and introduced me to your website. I certainly enjoyed viewing your work. They’re profoundly crisp, sharp and breathtaking.

    Thank you for taking us to places through your lenses. Keep up with your great work.


  16. Hi Monica,

    Thanks for visiting. This is the Maria Yong (the umbrella lady) who came back for your cousin Lili’s wedding?

    For the Temburong aerial photography, we were hovering between 500 and 1,500 feet. I can’t say exactly how high we were with each of the shots as the images hadn’t been GPS tagged. It was an exhilarating ride and I’m booked for another aerial photography job next month.


  17. Thank you for your prompt response to my question. And yes, this is Maria’s older sis. Umbrella lady, huh? I have never heard her being called that in the past, must be new.

    Any hoo, hope this finds you and your family well and Gong Xi Fa Cai.



  18. stunning pictures again Jan!! The second one is a heavenly like scene. Really want to visit there, take me with you next time, hopfully I can be your assistant $_$


  19. Whoa !! Your Temburong Aerial photos are indeed benchmark photos. Did not realize Temburong could be so enchanting. Simply mind blowing !!


  20. Jan,
    Superb photography and very nice scenes and friendly people . These bring back memories of our stay in Brunei for 12 years as a staff of Brunei Shell. Being a photo enthusiast (Photography section of BS Recreation Club).at one time the thrill and vigilance of waiting for the comet to appear in Temburong sky . The comraderie of the photographers including those with RTB was just pleasant.
    Jan, kindly feature……Tasek Marimbun… a place where we used to fish and picnic. How is it now?

    Batangas City Philippines


    1. Hello Cesar,

      It’s always great to hear of the fond memories former expatriates had lived and experienced in my humble abode. I am based in Seria and know one or two members of the BSRC photography club. In fact, Husini Bakar, the club’s former President and present Captain (a.k.a. ‘the macro guy’) and I visited Tasek Merimbun last June. We had a great time catching up and the timing gave me a great sunset opportunity (last picture) that made it to an Easi Card feature.


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